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Dining in Korea

Dining in Korea can be one of the most enjoyable experiences of your visit.


Rules of Korean

Dining Etiquette

At the beginning of the meal


Wait to be seated

Wait for the oldest person/people to sit down first before you take a seat at the table.


Before you begin

Before you eat, it's polite to say that you are looking forward to the meal. In Korean, people say "Jal mokessumneda" (I will eat well).


Beginning to eat

Wait for the oldest person or host to lift their spoon or chopsticks first before you start eating.



During the meal


Communal side dishes

Korean meals have many communal side dishes that are often passed for you to take just a small portion.


Soup and rice bowls

During the meal, don't hold the bowl of soup or rice leave it on the table as you eat from it.


Accepting dishes or drinks

When someone senior pours a drink for you, hold out your cup with both hands to accept.  This also holds true for someone passing you a side dish or something else at the table.



Drinking during a meal


Refilling your glass

Always pour drinks for others first, especially for those senior to you. Typically you never pour your own drink.


Pouring drinks

When you pour for someone senior to you, use your right hand to pour while you place your left hand lightly under your right hand or under your opposite elbow.


Offers of alcohol

It is considered polite to receive an alcoholic drink offered to you.  However, Koreans are very understanding and won't be offended if you do not drink alcohol.



At the end of the meal


Placement of utensils on table

Don't stick your chopsticks straight up into your bowl because that resembles traditional Korean ancestor ceremonies. When you're done, utensils go back on the table.


At the end of your meal it is customary to say something like" "jal mokaussumnida" meaning I ate well.

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